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Once Upon a Time in China #1


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jet Li, Biao Yuen, Rosamund Kwan, Jacky Cheung, Kent Cheng
  • Directors: Hark Tsui
  • Writers: Hark Tsui, Elsa Tang, Gai Chi Yuen, Yiu Ming Leung
  • Producers: Hark Tsui
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, Widescreen, Import, NTSC
  • Language: Cantonese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Japanese, Georgian, Chinese
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Tai Seng Video Marketing
  • DVD Release Date: November 17, 1998
  • Run Time: 134 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305235074
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,066 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Once Upon a Time in China #1" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

The first of a popular series (six in all) starring the charismatic and athletically adept Jet Li. Li plays legendary folk hero Wong Fei Hong, a late 19th century southern Chinese healer and kung fu master. The story begins with Western powers (American, British, and French) encroaching on the city of Canton. Wong is asked by the Black Flag army to safeguard the town by creating his own militia of kung fu experts. His assistants include the butcher "Porky" (Kent Cheng), a Chinese-American named Bucktooth So (Jacky Cheung), and his westernized "Auntie" Yee (Rosamund Kwan), a non-blood-related childhood friend for whom he holds a special affection. But the Westerners aren't the only problem in Canton. The Sha Ho gang terrorizes local businesses and has begun dealing with the Americans in exporting Chinese for slave labor and prostitution. A down-on-his-luck kung fu master named Iron Vest Yim (Yan Yee Kwan) has decided he needs to defeat Wong to open a school and Leung Fu (Jackie Chan contemporary Yuen Biao), a traveling opera troupe groupie, just keeps getting in the way. This epic martial-arts film showcases Li's amazing fighting and acrobatic skills and established Tsui Hark as a top-notch action film director. The final fight scene between Wong and Yim entails a dizzying orchestration of kicks and punches while teeter-tottering on ladders. The DVD features star bios, filmographies, trailers, and clips from early Wong Fei Hong films that starred veteran actor Kwan Tak Hing. --Shannon Gee

Customer Reviews

This is an excellent movie, in fact, one of the best Martial Arts movies I've seen.
Jackie Gonzalez
It is also noteworthy to point out Hark's interweaving of Chinese history into the plot, which actually makes the film more interesting.
Arnold Filomeno
Everything was good in this movie the music,acting,story,and the over the top fighting scenes!
Preston Downey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By "tdsra" on February 20, 2001
Format: DVD
First of all, the movie: let me start off by saying that you should not try to compare this movie to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" anymore than you can compare the 1920s movie "The Lost World" to the modern, Spielberg-directed and CGI-enhanced "Lost World." And while some of you may say that in the latter example there was a much greater time gap between the movies, my point is that Hong Kong cinema has gone through drastic changes over the past decade, with many of the current crop of movies sporting high production values--"Storm Riders", released a couple of years ago, was one of the first (if not THE first) HK movies to use Hollywood-quality special effects and CGI, and many subsequent movies have tried to follow suit (e.g., "The Duel", "Man Called Hero"). In contrast, "Once Upon a Time in China" was made on a much, much smaller budget, but is generally considered a classic martial arts movie, and the one that not only propelled Jet Li to stardom, but also revived a genre that had long gone stagnant.
Personally, I believe that this is one of Jet Li's best movies (I've seen them all), especially if you're looking for a movie which best showcases his terrific martial arts ability. In this movie he plays Wong Fei Hong, a Chinese folk hero who has been depicted in hundreds of movies by dozens of actors, but by Jet Li for the first time. He is joined by a well-known Hong Kong cast (e.g., Rosamund Kwan, Yuen Biao, etc.).
The DVD: no, the video image is not of five-star quality, but I don't see why so many people are complaining. I've seen at least 50-70 Hong Kong DVDs over the past year, and most of the time the quality is poor to mediocre at best.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Will Thomasson on January 15, 2000
Format: DVD
If you enjoy martial arts movies at all, you must own this movie. The cinematograpy is excellent, the fight scenes are superb, and the movie as a whole is top-notch. I enjoyed the gratuitous playing of the theme song throughout the movie; it really added to the atmosphere. Tsui Hark and Jet Li bring to life the story of the great Chinese folk here, Wong Fei Hung. I particularly recommend the DVD version.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 9, 1999
Format: DVD
This is one of his classics and the newest actor to portray Wong Fei Hong (classical Chinese folk hero).
The action is great, although some parts of this movie can be quite boring. I would watch this movie just to see one kick that Jet Li executes (without being suspended on wires) in which he does a 540 degree split kick jumping from one bench to another during the opera fight scene (nicely jazzed up with a jet's "whoosh" sound effect).
However, if you want to see Jet's true fighting talent without the cheesy Chinese element (which usually involves lots of wire suspension), see "Fist of Legend" - Jet's new and improved version of Bruce Lee's "Chinese Connection". I also highly recommend "Tai-chi Master" which also features Michelle Yeoh in top form (Bond girl from "Tomorrow Never Dies").
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 1, 1999
Format: DVD
The film which started one of the most famous and successfull Hong Kong franchises of alltime is the best of all the Wong Fei Hung films. One of the most ingenious fight scenes ever seen (esp. Yim and Wong's battles) and probably the most intriguing, emotional and complex storyline of any Hong Kong Martial Arts film make Once Upon a Time in China enjoyable to almost any Martial Art fan. Jet Li (in the film which made him a superstar) portrays Wong Fei Hung the best, in my view. He almost did to Wong what Liam Neeson did to Oskar Schindler. Li's masterful fighting skills, awesome charismatic presence and his wise, flawless acting makes him superior to other kung fu superstars like Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung, Bruce Lee..only Chow Yun-Fat equals his skills. The end fight sequence between Master Yim and Master Wong is in the top six most tense and exciting Hong Kong action sequences ever (along with Fist of Legend, The Killer, Hard-Boiled, A Better Tomorrow II and Drunken Master 2).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kienshin on February 15, 2001
Format: DVD
Once Upon A Time In China is one of the most important landmarks in HK film history with stunning fight sequences, great performances from all the cast and a strong controversial plot altogether. Sadly the American Region 1 DVD fail to do justice to the film. Picture is muddy and sound is mono. Even the english dubbed version suffers from near total darkness. Sound is only mono and not a very good one at that. It's even worse than the Region Zero available in the Asian market.I recommend the UK Region 2 instead. It is definitely ten times clearer and has a full-length commentary by director Tsui Hark and also interviews. Avoid this DVD at all cost!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 23, 2000
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is the story of a famous Martial Arts master during the early 1900s named Wong Fei Hong who was one of the famous Canton tigers. This is the first in the series of 5, 2 of which are not Jet Li. Jet Li's sidekick is played by Yuen Bao (for a number of Jackie Chan movies). They are my favorite martial arts movies of all time. There are a lot of great fight scenes, but a lot of wire work (Done very well however, unlike Romeo must Die). I highly recomend this title, and every other one of the "Once upon a time in China" series (One of the movies has no number, it is called "Once upon a time in China and America").
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